In a development that should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone with even a passing familiarity with drug policy and its effects, black-market marijuana growers and dealers are profiting greatly from the federal crackdown on legal medicinal cannabis dispensaries.
It’s Economics 101, after all: When the market demand exceeds the legal supply, people turn to illegal sources of a desired product. And there aren’t many products more desired than cannabis, both by patients who need the stuff for quality of life issues, to the recreational tokers who want their albums to sound as good as possible.
According to a recent report from California Watch, a division of the Center for Investigative Reporting, prices for black-market, high-grade, outdoor-grown Cali weed — after plummeting in 2010 — have risen by 20 to 40 percent
since the state’s four U.S. Attorneys announced a crackdown on medical marijuana growers and dispensaries, reports the Chico News Review.
The federal prosecutors even threatened local governmental agencies and personnel — like the Chico City Council and its staff, for fuck’s sake — with arrest and prosecution.
For growers who are willing to gamble by doing black-market dealing — of which these certainly seems to be no shortage — this is just fine and dandy. Prices were were hovering down at around $1,000 an el-bee have now shot back up to as much as $2,500 or $3,000 a pound, making the business suddenly a lot more lucrative.
As good as this is for black-market profiteers, it is terrible for legitimate medical marijuana patients and providers.
Safe, legal access to cannabis by patients — many of whom are, contrary to popular perception, seriously ill — gets lost in the shuffle, their legitimate medical needs getting lost in the cracks somewhere between law enforcement’s slash-and-burn zeal and the black market’s bulging pockets.
And legitimate medicinal cannabis cultivators — those who are a lifeline for many patients, bringing them the hand-crafted, carefully bred strains that make such a difference in their lives — are in an even worse position, with the Feds’ misplaced priorities threatening to not only put them out of business and financially wreck them, but also to put them in federal prison.
“Prices are going up, but the people who will cash in are the men hiding in the mountains,” said one Mendocino County medical marijuana farmer. “If this continues, the people who are trying to follow medical marijuana laws won’t get anything because they’ll be out of business, thanks to the feds.”